8 Tips for Childproofing Your Home
Chances are, you wouldn’t stick a finger into an electrical outlet, pick flaking paint and put paint chips in your mouth, or lean on the screen of an open window.
But children, who are inherently curious about the world around them, will poke, touch, push, pull and explore every inch of your home. They’ll pick things up and put them in their mouths. And it can happen in an instant.
Identifying—and correcting—these and other potential hazards can prevent serious injuries. Read on for a list of the most common injuries among children at home, along with childproofing tips to help you keep your home safe for little explorers.
Child Safety Statistics: Common Injuries Among Children at Home
While the specific means of injuries may change with the times, the underlying causes do not. Parents can prevent many accidents by focusing childproofing efforts on strategies that address the six major causes of child injuries identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Poisoning & drug overdose
- Motor vehicle crashes
The Tide Pod Challenge demonstrates how the means of poisoning can change. During its heyday, when people filmed each other eating Tide Pods, injuries related to laundry pods and packet detergents accounted for 73,000 calls to emergency centers around the country. For children too young to understand the challenge, the colorful Tide Pods looked temptingly like candy.
Nationally, children’s ER visits are double those of non-senior adults. More than four million children under the age of 18 go to emergency rooms every year.
Regardless of how the means of injuries change over the years, it’s possible to childproof a home against many potential hazards.
1. Cover up
Make it difficult or impossible for children to put fingers or objects where they shouldn’t go. Get inexpensive child-safe covers for outlets, and cover or block potential burn hazards, such as hot radiators.
Put window guards or safety nettings on windows to prevent falls. And not just on low windows: children can drag chairs to higher windows because they want to see out.
Cover, block or prevent access to anything else that can burn or injure a child.
2. Get the childproofing gear
There are more protective devices than ever to childproof your home, including:
- Cabinet latches
- Safety gates
- Outlet covers
- Doorknob covers and locks
- Corner and edge bumpers
- Furniture and appliance anchors
- Anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads
And the list goes on. Use the CDC’s list of the most common injuries among children to survey your house, get what you need, and spend a few hours installing everything.
3. Move it
If it’s breakable, sharp or dangerous in any way, put it out of reach in a childproof or locked area. Even items that seem benign—such as small objects (choking hazards), medications (even with childproof caps), plastic bags and lighters—should be out of sight and out of reach.
4. Install alarms
Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, especially in and near sleeping areas. Replace batteries annually; the cost and hassle of replacement are small prices to pay for your and your family’s safety.
5. Watch out for water
Be especially cautious when it comes to water. Pools and spas require multiple protection strategies, including fences, gates/doors, locks and alarms. Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub, swimming pool or spa.
According to the CDC, about 4,000 people in the U.S. drown every year. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 (behind birth defects). For children under 14, only motor vehicle crashes kill more.
6. Remove small objects
Anything small, from a penny on the floor to fancy thimbles displayed on a table, can be swallowed in an instant. Statistics show that the number of small children swallowing small objects has skyrocketed.
Coins, pieces of toys, jewelry, batteries, and screws are dangerous choking hazards, and all too easy for an adult to overlook and a child to find. Nothing escapes the attention of small children who spend the day crawling on the floor.
Which leads to…
7. Explore like a child
To ensure your home is childproof, explore it as a child would. Crawl around on your hands and knees into every corner. Open drawers and cabinets to see what’s inside that might be dangerous.
You can’t be too careful.
8. Introduce safety skills
As they get older, children will eventually stop seeing hazards as exciting, and you’ll have opportunities to help them learn certain solutions to keep themselves safe in emergencies.
Safety skills you can gradually teach your children include the following:
- Where they can find important phone numbers for their parents or caregivers, relatives, neighbors, doctors, and emergency services.
- How to recite their name, phone number and address to trusted adults.
- Which doors and windows are safe to use as escape routes in case of a fire and how to reach them from any room in the house.
- Where to take cover if there’s a severe storm (a small interior hall, room or closet with no windows). Place heavy blankets on a low shelf near this area, if possible.
If you have any questions, or simply want to see if we can help you save money on homeowners insurance, call our office at 877-576-5200.
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